Airport insecurity: Why is the TSA growing more dysfunctional?

I don’t know, either.

I don’t know why on Earth security officers with the Transportation Security Administration would want to – would have to – search a wheelchair-bound 3-year-old with spina bifida.

Yet there was the Forck family of Missouri, on their way to catch their flight to Walt Disney World last month, when TSA agents at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport decided that 3-year-old Lucy was a security risk. She was taken out of her little pink wheelchair – after having her favorite stuffed animal taken from her – while officers conducted a “swab” of her chair.

WHY? ACCORDING to Lucy’s father, attorney Nathan Forck, the TSA “specifically told me that they were singling her out for this special treatment because she’s in a wheelchair.”

No probable cause. Just a little pink wheelchair – the symbol of airborne terrorists everywhere.

If you watch the video Lucy’s mother took – if you can hear it over Lucy’s gut-wrenching sobs – you can hear a TSA agent telling the Forcks it was “illegal” to record the incident as it unfolded.

Except it isn’t illegal. A better-trained TSA agent would have known that. Maybe. Or perhaps the agent missed the day that was covered, during the more than 120 hours of training a TSA security officer is supposed to go through.

If you think “more than 120 hours” sounds like a lot, consider that a Georgia law enforcement officer requires at least 408 hours of training before being allowed to professionally put on a badge.

And if I told you the thousands of training hours required to become a licensed cosmetologist
in Georgia, you wouldn’t believe me.

The public keeps getting told about the TSA’s important role in homeland security. If it’s so important, shouldn’t its officers receive at least as much training as the average police officer?

If you had personnel with more professional discernment, maybe you wouldn’t have incidents such as the one involving internationally renowned cellist Alban Gerhardt. When he arrived in Chicago last month, he opened his cello case to find that ham-fisted TSA agents – after rummaging through the case in Washington, D.C. – apparently slammed the case shut, snapping in half Gerhardt’s $20,000 bow made by acclaimed 19th-century craftsman Heinrich Knopf. Gerhardt discovered later that slamming the lid also cracked his expensive Goffriller cello.

BUT MY BEEF with the lack of training is just one item on the laundry list of problems with the TSA:

• The TSA is a textbook example of waste. That’s according to a joint report by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In a Dallas warehouse, for example, $184 million worth of security equipment sits unused, costing taxpayers $23 million in depreciation and $3.5 million a year just to lease and manage the warehouse.

• While everyone’s talking about cutting government amid a sour economy, the TSA has been hiring more personnel even though the number of air travelers has been going down. That’s according to a report by the Committee on Homeland Security. Almost half
of the TSA’s $3 billion budget is eaten up by providing pay and benefits to its airport screeners, which comprise more than three-fourths of the TSA’s 62,000 employees.

• Over the past three years, the TSA’s budget for its explosive-sniffing canine program has bloated to $100 million. It’s not a bad idea to have bomb-sniffing dogs, but it’s bad the way the TSA does it. A report from the Government Accountability Office found that the TSA keeps failing to meet training requirements, and it pitifully underuses its 760 canine teams.

• Atlanta’s WSB-TV uncovered a federal database showing hundreds of complaints from air travelers about items missing from their luggage – cash, jewelry, clothes and electronics. In what could be a related story, TSA agents across the country have been arrested, charged and sentenced for trying to steal cash, jewelry, clothes and electronics.

And since we’re trying to conserve paper here, I’ll refrain from listing all the incidents and complaints stemming from intrusive pat-downs of little kids, senior citizens and medically fragile travellers.

SEVERAL YEARS ago there was a skit on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live depicting airport security screeners as a motley collection of vacant, slack-jawed functionaries who displayed a bored indifference toward increasingly angry airline passengers. It was funny when it was aired in January 2001, before the 9/11 attacks that galvanized America’s attention toward heightened airline security.

The TSA was formed 70 days after those attacks. Airline security is no longer a laughing matter.

So why is the TSA such a bitter joke?

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chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 03/03/13 - 10:26 am
1
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“So why is the TSA such a
Unpublished

“So why is the TSA such a bitter joke?”
Because it is run by gov’t bureaucrats. The TSA was one of Bush’s biggest mistakes. Take a good look the at TSA people. There is so many of them they get one another’s way. They have to invent things to do in the effort to look busy. The TSA is MUCH worse in cities that are run by the democrats. Atlanta and Detroit are good example.

dichotomy
32778
Points
dichotomy 03/03/13 - 11:02 am
1
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The TSA was supposed to

The TSA was supposed to protect us from the terrorists. Instead, they have become the terrorists. A huge government bureacracy of basically untrained street hires with law enforcement authority, no retraints, and ZERO common sense.

thauch12
6584
Points
thauch12 03/03/13 - 12:27 pm
2
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The TSA is just another in a

The TSA is just another in a long line of examples of what happens when you give people with low intellect badges, authority, and unchecked power.

allhans
23619
Points
allhans 03/05/13 - 08:53 pm
0
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My nephew is with TSA (oops) and

My nephew is an agent with TSA and often works security at the Richmond VA airport. Maybe I will have a conversation with him..not that he is a decision maker..but to get his take...

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 03/03/13 - 05:44 pm
2
0
Security Gone Crazy

The TSA is a joke because we have allowed them to become a joke. We have thrown common sense out the window, in the quest for "security".

The whole mantra "there's a terrorist on every corner" has gotten a bit old. Americans worry about terrorists, not realizing they have much better chance of dying in their own home from a slip and fall accident.

ken8375309
1627
Points
ken8375309 03/03/13 - 07:14 pm
1
0
Privatize airport screening,

Privatize airport screening, and turn it over to the airlines. Just that simple.

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